Aldon Smith isn't scheduled to come off suspension until November, which is 11 weeks into the season. But being that his contract with the Raiders was just through last season, he is currently a free agent and can technically sign anywhere. The Raiders would prefer that he return to Silver & Black, but as of now they are going to wait out things.
"The conversations have been good," McKenzie told CSNBayArea.com on Monday at the NFL owners meetings. "Really, it's encouraging him as a person to continue to get his life right. And if you're going to commit to this thing, you have to go through some steps. And that's what he's going through right now."
Smith's issues have all been alcohol related, causing the All Pro passer to be suspended several times by the NFL for violating their substance abuse program. He could be on his last chance once he returns to the league and therefore how he responds this time is of considerable importance to him as a player as well as the Raiders who would like to bring him back.
When Smith signed with the team last September, he raved about joining "an organization that looks out for their players and just a fresh start."
"I had a couple choices. Places I could go," said Smith. "Places had different [contract] offers, some more, some less, some the same, but I have a house here. I have a son here. This is my home. I really love the bay area, the people and I don't wanna go."
"I'm been doing a good job taking care of myself. I've got a really good support system around me of people who care about me and people I can talk to and just I'm fortunate to have the people around me that I do have."
Staying in the Bay Area and with the Raiders could give Smith his best chance to return to his All Pro form that had him put up 33.5 sacks over his first two seasons in the NFL. He had 3.5 sacks in 9 games with the Raiders last season after having been signed three days before the season opener.
When he signed originally, there were a few teams going after him, including the Jacksonville Jaguars. So, it's possible that he will have suitors again, or perhaps already. But any deal he signs will be laced with clauses that protect the team in the event of a relapse. Therefore, the longer he waits to sign with any team the better his eventual deal will look.